A birthday celebration for the airplane that invented the concept of the pressurized cabin-class single
You start to feel your age a little when you can clearly remember the introduction of an airplane that’s now 21 years old. The new model party for the 1984 Piper Malibu was a major event in Vero Beach, Fla. It was, after all, the first all-new general-aviation airplane in at least a decade.
To many, she’s the most beautiful taildragger of all time
In 1947, enthusiasm reigned supreme in the general aircraft industry. With the release of the bold new Cessna 195, the Wichita, Kan., aircraft maker gleefully announced the introduction of a “completely practical, personal and company airliner.” Other great American companies who stood to enjoy a new profit stream from personal aircraft joined in the celebration.
I have a good friend in the music business who has always shown an interest in flying. He seems to have plenty of time, drives a two-year-old Volvo wagon, owns a home in Long Beach, Calif., and has inquired several times about the cost of learning to fly. He’s not intimidated by the price of lessons, but he isn’t enthusiastic about having to rent someone else’s airplane once he’s rated.
The largest piston-engine maker to introduce diesel & other designs
In a long-awaited move, Lycoming general manager Ian Walsh said that his company will be introducing a new diesel engine. While the company hasn’t released details of the new engine, Walsh did say that it would be dramatically more efficient than today’s gasoline-powered engines and would solve other problems, including the use of lead in aviation fuel. The diesel, when introduced, would run on standard jet fuel.
Flying this aerobatic trainer across the Southwest makes for a fun and wild ride
Recently, I had a chance to fly a considerably less-ambitious Pitts delivery—pick up a 1999 S2C in Texas and ferry it back to Tom’s Aircraft in California. Not a big deal, only 1,100 nm across the Southwest with airports everywhere, and the weather was forecast to be good for the entire trip.
Using too much rudder can create structural in-flight failures
On November 12, 2001, American Airlines flight 587 crashed at Belle Harbor, N.Y., shortly after taking off from John F. Kennedy International Airport. All 260 people on board the airplane and five people on the ground were killed. The investigation began pointing to the likelihood that the airplane’s vertical stabilizer and rudder broke off because of full-rudder deflection.
Making friends with those who share the same passion for flight is time well spent
It’s mid-morning on the first day of the new year as I’m writing this, and I’ve already managed to put myself in a serious funk. I just did something really (as in really) stupid: I looked at last year’s list of resolutions. The list wasn’t that ambitious, but looking back at it makes me wonder exactly what I did with my time for the last 12 months.
Second only to landings, problems at the beginning of the flight offer a multitude of challenges
Even though a takeoff requires only 2% or 3% of a typical flight’s duration, the maneuver produces more than one-fourth of our light-plane accidents. A significant portion of these departure mishaps occur on the ground during the takeoff run—most often the result of a pilot’s loss of directional control.
Since air carriers fly night and day all over the world, they know how to prepare efficiently
A friend of mine recently asked me if I actually did a weight-and-balance calculation before every flight. When I answered yes, he seemed somewhat taken aback. “Really?!” he quizzed, somewhat perplexed.